Arrests made for the murder of two teens in a double shooting

Local and federal law enforcement revealed on Friday that two people have been apprehended in relation to the double murder of two teenagers following a Halloween party last year. The suspects, who were 18 years old at the time of their arrest, were actually 17 years old when the killings occurred. The San Diego District Attorney’s Office intends to request the transfer of their cases to adult court. Edwin Barrera, 18, and Gillian Aguilera, 16, were shot and killed on October 28, 2022, at approximately 11:35 p.m. in the 1800 block of East 17th Street after attending a Halloween gathering in the vicinity.

District Attorney Summer Stephan stated, “Outside this Halloween party, emerging criminal street gang members began hunting down what they perceived as rivals. In order to establish their reputation, they resorted to murder.” Barrera was confronted by the suspects and subsequently shot and killed, while Aguilera, an innocent bystander, tragically lost her life as well. National City Police Chief Jose Tellez revealed that the murder investigation led to a broader inquiry involving the FBI, as the teenage murder suspects were connected to a crime ring comprising gang members.

Dubbed ‘Operation Broken Bandz,’ the investigation resulted in the arrest of nine individuals. The suspects face various charges, including murder, armed robbery, and drug trafficking. Sergeant Springer, in a news release, stated, “These arrests were made as a result of a collaborative investigation involving members of the San Diego County Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF), which comprises several law enforcement agencies throughout the county.”

Furthermore, law enforcement suspects that individuals associated with the same crime ring are responsible for an attempted murder that occurred in February. The incident took place at the 2500 block of East Plaza Boulevard around 10 p.m., where Ismael Astorga, 17, and Michael Porter, 20, sustained severe gunshot wounds to their heads. Surveillance footage captured an individual leaving the scene in a gray sedan immediately after the shooting.

Anyone with information regarding either case is urged to contact San Diego County Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 or submit tips online at Informants may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.